It was 1988. My mother had passed away and it was a rough year for me. I decided to make a modest donation to the Chabad calendar in her honor in the summer, soon before it was published.
The Chabad Rabbi had called me and made a suggestion to me: There was full page picture in the Chabad calendar of a woman lighting Shabbat candles, and since my mother was a very traditional woman and she always lit Shabbos candles, he thought it fitting that I sponsor that page.
It was much more expensive than my usual donation, but I wanted to do something to honor my mother that year, and this would be one more thing I would do.
The calendar was then published and mailed out to the Jewish community.
A few weeks later, I went shopping and mistakenly bought a box of tealight candles (the flat discs in the metal containers). Although, many people do use them, especially where large crowds are lighting Shabbos candles, it was not my practice to use those at home.
On a late Friday afternoon, about an hour before Shabbos, I got a call from the Chabad Rebbetzin. She excitedly told me that a woman from the Reform Temple called and said she was impressed by the ad in the calendar and would light Shabbos candles tonight if someone had some candles to spare.
The woman lived near me and I told her I had a box of candles to give her (the ones I mistakenly bought). She drove to my house to pick them up, presumably using them for that Shabbos.
That’s not the end of the story… Fifteen years later, it was 2003. I am sitting in a Doctor’s office. There was a woman with her husband sitting opposite me and she says to me “Do you know who I am?”
I replied, “No, I do not.”
She smiled back at me, “Fifteen years ago, I borrowed Shabbos candles from you, and for the first time in my life lit Shabbos candles, all because of the wonderful ad in the Jewish calendar you sponsored for your mother. I am still lighting Shabbos candles today.”